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The Paulbot Factor

By Greg L | 12 May 2012 | RPV | 8 Comments

As has been going on for some time elsewhere, the Paulbots showed up in force to the Republican 1st District Convention trying to elect their slate of candidates to be delegates at the Republican National Convention.  I have no idea why, since they will accomplish utterly nothing in doing so, but the display provoked an interesting exercise in “what if’s” that represents a huge lost opportunity for Bob Marshall’s run for US Senate.

First, let’s set the stage here.  The convention was at the absolute southern-most part of this crazy long District which made it a four hour ride each way for me, as I live in the northern-most point of the district.  Even though Prince William and Stafford Counties alone amount to about a third of the district’s weighted votes, actual attendance from Prince William was quite low, and I would estimate statistically about a quarter of the turnout for other counties in the district.  That doesn’t reduce the voting power of the county’s delegation as a whole, but it makes each raw vote much more valuable and count two or three times more than other jurisdictions when weighting is taken into account.

It’s a natural target then for the Paulbots, who not only have pretty decent numbers in the county, but showing up in numbers alongside a depressed turnout of actual Republicans gives them an opportunity to seize a lot of weighted votes.  Along with getting their folks turned out in other jurisdictions, they managed to get their guy Jon Melendez elected as a delegate to the national convention.  So even though Ron Paul lost the primary battle to Romney, one of the delegates from the 1st CD is a Ron Paul guy.

Which actually means nothing.  At the national convention, all members of the Virginia delegation are “bound” on the first ballot to vote for the winner, who was Romney.  On subsequent ballots they could vote differently, but there would only be a second ballot if Romney failed to win more than 50% of the votes, which is beyond unlikely.  If the Paulbots somehow managed to seize enough state delegations they could cast ballots in defiance of the voter’s wishes, and somehow managed to eke out a victory in one or more ballots after voters clearly indicated a significantly different preference (the number of states where Ron Paul managed to come in anywhere but last is vanishingly small), all Ron Paul would be known for, despite the good things he’s done, is an anti-democratic (small “d”) kleptocrat who will seize power even if he hadn’t earned it.  I can’t imagine he could possibly tolerate such an outrage.  Posing a threat to force policy discussions, I get.  Trying to steal the nomination when voters pretty clearly said he wasn’t who they wanted, not going to happen, folks.

So after the convention I’m waiting to get on the bus and see one of the young strangers in the Prince William County delegation get in his car.  It’s got a Ron Paul sticker on the bumper, as well as a promotion for “infowars.com,” which I assume is some sort of Paulbot website.  And there’s a Bob Marshall sticker.  Hmm.

Marshall supported having a primary as the means of deciding who the nominee for US Senate would be last year, pretty much a reaction to his experience in how the establishment corrupted the convention to his detriment when he was running against Jim Gilmore.  Had there been a convention, that young dude with the Ron Paul sticker on his car would have undoubtably showed up for a state convention, which would have been closer than the 1st CD convention in Poquoson, and brought plenty of his friends along with him.  When Marshall ran against Gilmore for a Senate nomination without the Paulbots, he lost by less than a handful of raw votes.  In 2012, with his usual base of support plus a flock of dedicated Paulbots who will show up to anything, whether it’s worth the effort or not, Marshall would absolutely crush George Allen.  With a primary though, the effect of the Paulbots is vastly lower to the point of irrelevancy.

Marshall’s got to be kicking himself on this one.

As far as the actual important results of the convention, Eric Herr (Stafford) soundly defeated incumbent chairman Tom Foley, and Jeanine Lawson (Prince William) and Steve Albertson (Stafford) won spots on the State Central Committee.  The establishment took a huge hit today and the next time there’s a convention it’s not going to be in such a ridiculous place as Poquoson in some run-down elementary school that has an auditorium too small to seat all the attending delegates.  Not only was Foley an utter tool during his tenure, but he was a complete dumbass who couldn’t figure out that having delegates arrive pissed off is not conducive to having an incumbent chairman re-elected.  In this case stupidity provided a self-correcting mechanism to fix an organizational problem.

Note: Just because someone might prefer Ron Paul as a presidential candidate doesn’t make them a “Paulbot.”  I reserve that term for the mislead supporters of his that get roped into the stranger fringes of conspiracy theory, proto-anarchy, and willful historical ignorance which tarnishes the better characteristics of constitutionalist and libertarian philosophy.  Whether these valuable philosophical studies will survive what Paulbots are doing to it right now is increasingly an open question.    


Judging by some online discussions which will inevitably show up here once the Paulbots complain about this post in whatever conspiracy theorist website they hang out in, I’d like to preempt a discussion of RNC’s Rule 28 about “bound” delegates at the convention.  The way this has always been read is that on the first ballot all delegates are bound to vote in accordance with the wishes of the primary electorate.  A novel reading of the RNC’s rules by some Paulbots believe the opposite is true.  So here’s what I call the “bullshit rule.”

1.  If you, as a novice, reading something complex like parliamentary rules, the law, or something similar and believe you were the sole person in all of history to discover some element that provides you or your cause with a heretofore unprecedented advantage, unless you are a complete idiot you must assume your conclusion is ignorant bullshit.

2.  Your novel discovery that has somehow been missed by others more experienced and learned than yourself can only be somewhat not-bullshit if what you are reading has recently been revised by people who are compensated for their efforts regardless of the quality of their work, such as employees of the federal government, and you happen to be among the first dozen or so people actually reading the revision.  If you think that is likely, you’re full of bullshit.

3.  Even if by sheer blind luck you have indeed stumbled upon an opportunity to unfairly gain advantage of everyone else with a vested interest in the subject of your curiosity, whatever institutional systems govern this area of expertise will rapidly find a way to make sure a miscreant such as yourself, who would rather abuse a system than strengthen it, will not prevail.  If you believe your ignorant self can defeat the massive institutional force arrayed against you armed only with what you think is brilliance, your cranium is undoubtedly filled to capacity with bullshit.

4.  Even if you were smart enough to defeat these institutions, which you are almost certainly not since you’re wasting time, energy, and resources like a fool on something you barely at all understand, your opponents can easily avail themselves with the power of the courts, who will rapidly act to protect the intent of the institutions you are attempting to destroy because they can afford better lawyers who aren’t hampered by your bullshit.  If you were able to afford better lawyers than your opponents, you’d be vastly rich, and you wouldn’t have gotten that way by baffling yourself with ignorant bullshit.

5.  Points 1-4 do not apply to a Bob Marshall, because when a Bob Marshall finds some screwed up problem with law, policy, or procedure he’s brilliant enough and experienced enough to know what he’s looking at and seeks no personal gain in pursuing his objective.  The lack of a personal self-interest in the outcome accompanied by learning, experience and intellect utterly inoculates someone like this from the effects of the bullshit rule.  Still, it’s possible a Bob Marshall can make a mistake, but since he always seeks input and counsel from people at least as intelligent, experienced, and insightful as he is before he proposes anything, when he does make a mistake about law, policy or procedure it is corrected well before it goes public and we never know about it.

So in a nutshell, prove to me you’re a Bob Marshall.  Until then, I’m calling bullshit.  I know because I’m not a Bob Marshall and I concept-tested this rule more times than I care to admit.

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  1. Hirons said on 12 May 2012 at 8:35 pm:
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    Thanks for the update. I was planning to go down to the convention, but had to coach a youth baseball game this morning that ran over. By the time it was over I wasn’t certain I would make it in time to check-in by the deadline. So I decided not to go, because I didn’t want to drive 2 hours only to not be able to vote.

    Hopefully have a convention is such a horrible spot will never happen again.

  2. Greg L said on 12 May 2012 at 8:44 pm:
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    I rode back with Eric Herr as my seatmate on the bus, and he was adamant that the next convention, and all other district events for that matter, would be held in a central location for the district, likely Fredericksburg.

  3. James Young said on 12 May 2012 at 9:12 pm:
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    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Foley’s horrible speech. I only know what I’d heard about him — precious little, except for those already motivated to vote for Herr — but I find it difficult to believe that his speech actually won him any votes.

  4. Greg L said on 12 May 2012 at 9:39 pm:
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    In three counties that I was able to get data for, that speech yielded him a total of six votes, and those counties had a weighted vote of 206 out of 601. There was a rumor that Foley got only 20% of the weighted vote which I can’t substantiate. Essentially in 1/3rd of the total weighted vote Foley got nearly no votes at all, which makes that scenario plausible.

  5. CityTaxpayer2 said on 12 May 2012 at 10:00 pm:
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    Wonder if the Paulbots will try the same at the 10th’s convention next Saturday.

  6. Greg L said on 12 May 2012 at 10:16 pm:
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    They certainly will. It’s a coordinated, national effort that intends to subvert the will of the electorate and while I might not be the biggest Romney fan, I certainly can’t tolerate this kind of patently undemocratic (small “d” here, please note) behavior.

    Know who you are voting for. Only vote for those you are sure about. You don’t have to vote for three or four of anything. If you want to vote for fewer candidates than the maximum you are allowed there is utterly nothing wrong with this.

  7. Colin B. said on 12 May 2012 at 10:53 pm:
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    Herr really got stuff squared away here in Stafford, he’ll make the 1st CD deep red by the time he’s up for re-election.

    Thanks for the coverage, apparently Radtke-bots are making a lot of hoopla about Allen’s surrogates not speaking. Regardless, I’m with Bob Marshall come Primary Day.

  8. Craig Orndorff said on 13 May 2012 at 7:08 pm:
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    I think you’re pretty spot on with your analysis that Bob Marshall would probably win in a convention (or at least have a much better chance). However, I do take exception with the idea that Marshall came close without the Paulistas (my preferred term) in 2008. They definitely played a role there, as they were trying much the same strategy as they are this year (although, there wasn’t quite as much emphasis on pulling off some sort of nutty parliamentary maneuver to undo the voters wishes). In fact, many of them were heavily touting that one of Bob’s boys was “one of them.” They had a strategy to get at-large delegates elected, but the bar was just too high. However, without any real races to gin up either the establishment or more mainstream conservatives, there’s a good chance that, as appears to be going on at many of the district conventions, that they’ll dominate the attendees. So we’ll see.

    As for the unit rule issue, I think they’re completely off base here. I threw this around with a colleague similarly intrigued with procedure. The bottom line here–binding is a separate matter from unit rule. Unit rule, as I understand it, would mean if a vote is taken amongst the delegates and, let us say, the outcome is (not using VA’s actual numbers) 20 votes for the Romney position and 10 votes for the Paul position, all 30 votes would be cast for the Romney position. The binding of the delegates is a separate process from voting on the floor. But, as is the case with all of parlipro, YMMV.

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